July 12, 2007: On May 26 former Houston Local 988 President Chuck Crawley was sentenced to 6 ½ years in federal prison for embezzling union funds and stealing a union election.
Crawley was already banned from the Teamsters by the Independent Review Board (IRB), after James Hoffa dragged his feet and slowed down an internal investigation.
Ed Stier, the former anti-corruption director for the IBT, investigated Crawley and found evidence of several money-skimming scams involving union vendors and purchases. Hoffa balked and slowed the investigation. It was one reason that Ed Stier resigned, charging that Hoffa was more interested in protecting his friends than cleaning up the Teamsters Union.
The feds then charged Crawley not only with embezzlement of union funds, but stuffing the ballot box in 2002, when reformer Earl China ran against Crawley. China, a 27 year Teamster, was conveniently fired (upheld by the panel) prior to the election.
“In our business, we have never heard of a man driving 2 million safe miles and having an accident and losing his job,” said China.
Crawley voted 382 extra ballots, using the names of members who he knew were unlikely to vote.
While ballot box stuffing in a union election is not itself a federal crime, Crawley was charged with illegally gaining office and thus embezzling the salary of union president of the 4,000 member local union.
Crawley is not the first Local 988 officer to end his career in prison.
It’s up to the members of Local 988 to build a strong and democratic local—hoping for a savior to do it has not worked.